A Worcestershire business has secured a £250,000 investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), provided by The FSE Group managed by MEIF Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme.
Little Mixers create high-quality fruit purees and syrups for use in cocktails, smoothies and desserts. The MEIF funding will be used to purchase and install a range of machinery at a new production facility in Worcestershire, making Little Mixers the first UK manufacturer of fruit purees specifically for the drinks industry.
Co-founders Shaun Elder and Simon Little formerly worked in the sector as agents for another manufacturer’s product, but with the creation of Little Mixers, they are now producing their own branded purees.
Little Mixers are managing the supply chain through direct relationships with fruit growers and bringing all manufacturing in-house with the aim of becoming the market leader for fruit purees that are allergen free, gluten free, kosher, halal and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Simon Little, co-founder of Little Mixer, said: “With the hospitality industry impacted so heavily by the pandemic, we re-evaluated our business model, identifying an opportunity to develop a premium, UK manufactured product for this category. As such, despite our extensive experience and commercial success in the sector, we are effectively starting a new business, meaning traditional lines of funding are not available to us.
“We are thankful to MEIF and FSE for looking at the strengths of our business proposition and being prepared to back our potential, enabling us to bring innovative processing techniques and new-to-market products to the UK.”
Since 2014, the number of outlets serving cocktails has risen by 75% with cocktails now accounting for 10% of total venue drinks sales. Little Mixers will supply its high-quality, commercially competitive and uniquely UK manufactured purees to premium hospitality venues that are looking for the finest ingredients.
Harriet Saunders, Fund Executive at The FSE Group, added: “Shaun and Simon have a deep understanding of the UK drinks sector with a strong network of industry connections. This, along with their technical expertise, data driven forecasting of the market and intellectual property ownership, sets them up well for the successful delivery of their business plan. “We are delighted to be supporting them and look forward to helping them achieve their ambitions for growth.”
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “The MEIF is committed to supporting businesses like Little Mixers in its growth plans in the Midlands. MEIF funding options are available to other businesses with growth plans in the region that are looking to scale-up and we’d encourage these businesses to consider the options.”
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to see yet another Worcestershire business being supported to grow through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. I am so pleased to see this support enabling Little Mixers to invest in their new production facility in Worcestershire, allowing them to bring their new innovative ideas to market. This has been down to the support of the Worcestershire growth hub and the partners supporting this business.”
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
The FSE Group, MEIF Debt Finance Fund provides loans between £100,000 and £1.5million to help growing SMEs across the region.
For more information visit: https://www.thefsegroup.com/fund/midlands-engine-investment-fund-debt-finance/